Netflix Explores Third-Party Output Deals, Cuts Jobs, Closes Two Films

There will be layoffs and the cancellation of two projects in pre-production as a result of Netflix’s upcoming reorganization of its animation division and the film slate it controls. As a result of the reorganization, the streaming service is actively seeking to partner with external creators to maintain a constant supply of animated programming.

While exact layoff numbers were not immediately available, they are anticipated to be announced in the following weeks. A representative from Netflix confirmed the intentions but had no further comment.

Karen Toliver, who was promoted to vice president of animation in February 2022, has reportedly been making adjustments to the studio’s long-term plan in order to maintain its dedication to a strong slate.

To that purpose, the department is thinking about making output contract offers to outside animation studios so that their works can be shown on the service. It was not immediately clear whose firms or manufacturers were being courted.

The first of two slate projects to enter turnaround is a movie called “Escape From Beverly Hills,” which has been kept under wraps until recently. The second is Godwin Jabangwe’s “Tunga,” a 2019 feature that Netflix acquired through an auction.

The film is based on Shona mythology and tells the story of a young girl who, in order to save her town from a catastrophic drought, must discover a legendary city whose older spirits may teach her how to conjure rain. Netflix has decided to keep the picture and has restarted production.

Netflix Animation had its best year ever in 2023 while struggling with internal strategy and bigger external market reasons (just week ago, rival DreamWorks Animation said it would lose 70 people and outsource production).

In the end, the division’s efforts paid off when “Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio” won the Academy Award for best-animated movie. The film included the voices of several notable actors, including Ewan McGregor, Cate Blanchett, Christoph Waltz, and Tilda Swinton.

The next two films to come from the studio are “Leo,” in which Adam Sandler voices a lizard who has spent decades as a class pet in a Florida school, and “Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.”

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